Global Red Cross Update November 2013

This month’s Global Red Cross Update will cover International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign Program, upcoming courses and events locally, relevant International Humanitarian Law current events, and information about inquires accepted by International Family Linking and International Disaster Inquiries.

IHL Action Campaign Program
Last year, the Cincinnati Chapter was one of the eight chapters nationwide to implement the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign Pilot Program. This year, we will be implementing the program again in January – April 2014. We have started the recruitment process for Team Leaders (18-25 years old) and Team Members (13-17 years old); deadline for the application will be on December 10, 2013.

Find out more about 2014 IHL Action Campaign Program, for interested applicants, both members (13-17 years old) and team leaders (18-25 years old) and potential teachers/schools partners.
Click here to learn more about the program and to apply (application deadline: December 10, 2013)

Information sessions will be held on:
1. November 11, 2013 at 3:30pm at MacMillan Hall on Spring St, Room #112, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
2. November 13, 2013 at 6pm at ARC Cincinnati Chapter, 2111 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
3. December 4th, 2013 at ARC Cincinnati Chapter, 2111 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207

Cincinnati Events:
International Humanitarian Law Courses (Free for the Public, CEUs for OHIO Social Workers offered)
December 11, 2013 at 8:30am – 12:30pm, International Humanitarian Law
December 12, 2013 at 8:30am – 5:00pm, International Humanitarian Law and Restoring Family Links

International Services Overview
Through Volunteer Connections, the International Services Department has received referrals of volunteers interested to learn more about our programs. With our limited staff and resources, we will be holding monthly presentations or overview to give volunteers opportunities to learn more about International Services and to serve within the department. Our International Services overview will be held every third Wednesday of the month at 6pm at the Cincinnati Chapter Headquarters. If interested to attend these presentations, please rsvp to Our next overview will be held on December 18, 2013.

International Humanitarian Law Current Events Update (Source: American Red Cross National Headquarters IHL Team, Legal Department)

1. Four of seven kidnapped aid workers freed in Syria. AFP, Jonathan Fowler, October 14, 2013. Link:
According to IHL, It is important that the remaining 3 ICRC workers be freed immediately. Additional Protocol II provides for humanitarian and impartial relief actions for the civilian population during non-international armed conflicts like the Syrian civil war. ICRC workers and members of National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies like the Syrian Arab Red Crescent work to protect vulnerable civilians during armed conflict. Attacks against personnel and objects displaying the distinctive emblems are prohibited by IHL in both international and non-international armed conflicts. In performing their important humanitarian work, the emblems of the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal are displayed both to show affiliation with this with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and provide protection from attack.

2. Drone strikes by US may violate international law, says UN. The Guardian, Owen Bowcott, October 21, 2013
In the IHL, while unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly referred to as “drones,” are not in and of themselves prohibited by IHL as a weapons platform, it is unclear based on publicly available information whether the current US targeted killing policy is in compliance with IHL. Even attacks using permissible weapons must be in compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality. This is currently unclear because so much of the information about targeted killings remains classified.

3. Liberian Charles Taylor moved to British prison to serve war crimes conviction. The Telegraph, October 15, 2013

IHL implication: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone of 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes included terroizing the civilian population, collective punishment, unlawful killings, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers, among others committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Under the Geneva Conventions, States have a duty not only to respect IHL themselves, but also to ensure respect for IHL by others and prosecute war crimes and other IHL violations committed by individuals. One way to do this is through the international criminal justice system.

4. Mali’s rescued manuscripts must go back to Timbuktu, say custodians
The Guardian, Mark Tran, October 1, 2013

IHL implications: Cultural objects and places of worship are protected by IHL as part of the “cultural heritage of mankind,” and attacks against them are prohibited. The UNESCO World Heritage Emblem is one of the symbols which can be used to identify important cultural artifacts, another is the symbol created by the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

5. Civilians vs. Chemicals: Protecting the Right Norm in Syria
Council on Foreign Relations, Betcy Jose, September 26, 2013

IHL implications: The use of chemical weapons is prohibited both due to the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and because of international treaties that ban chemical weapons specifically. It is also important to remember that the prohibition on attacks targeting civilians forms the very foundation of IHL, and that all operations must be directed against a legitimate miltiary target.

6. Bangladesh MP sentenced to death for 1971 war crimes (video)
BBC News, Muhfuz Sadique, October 1, 2013

IHL implications: States have a duty to address IHL violations, and war crimes are the most serious violations of IHL. States also have a duty to pass domestic legislation criminalizing serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

International Family Linking
– The American Red Cross is accepting tracing inquiries for missing loved ones in relation to the recent attacks at the Westgate Shopping Center in Nairobi, Kenya

– Iraqi Certificates of Detention. Clients may request documentation of their time as Prisoners of War in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War, so that they may be able to obtain reparations from the government of Iraq.

International Disaster Inquiries:
The American Red Cross is accepting tracing inquiries for missing loved ones in relation to:
– Typhoon Usagi (local name Odette) that hit the Philippines on September 21, 2013
– Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid (Southern Mexico)
– Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid. At this time Restoring Family Links inquiries can be accepted for the disaster affected areas of Southern Mexico

Inquiries will be accepted that meet the following criteria:
• Sought persons living in the affected area who were in regular contact with their relatives in the United States before the event occurred.
• For family members who are not U.S. citizens.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747. Please remember that this phone number is frequently busy during the first days of a large disaster.


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